Egypt â“ Both Eyes Fixed on a Lucrative Economic Future

egypt financesWhen it comes to financial services, we tend to think no one does it better than the British, and that’s understandable, really, given the worldwide influence of London’s Square Mile. Historically, it was at the centre of world business during the heights of the British Empire, but since then other financial centres have sprung up, notably New York City, with Wall Street at its heart, which now rank alongside the City as leading centres of global finance. Yet, often overlooked is Egypt, which has one of the oldest and best-developed banking and business sectors in the world. It is, without doubt, one of the dominating forces which has been driving growth in the thriving Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region for many years.

It’s not surprising images of camels, pyramids, Pharaohs, or the River Nile all spring to mind when we think of Egypt. Such images remind us of its ancient and glorious roots, encouraged more than a little by a dynamic and thoroughly modern tourism industry. And with the annual influx of millions of tourists into the country comes the need for a personal banking, IT and economic infrastructure capable of meeting such 21st century challenges.

But it is not only tourists who might be more than a little surprised by the modernity of ‘ancient’ Egypt. There are many from the UK and elsewhere who have already settled in the country, making it their home. Others are considering such a move, whether as a lifestyle choice or for business and other reasons. And, of course, easy access to finance, in the form of online banking or the more traditional face-to-face encounters, are often key considerations.

Well known banks such as HSBC Egypt, one of the largest multinational banks operating in Egypt, have been committed to the country for decades. The bank not only provides high quality personal banking for its many customers, offering a comprehensive range of banking and related financial services through a network of 83 branches, but it also supports a remarkable number of community projects, many with a particular focus on education and the environment.

In terms of a home-grown mortgage market, Egypt’s is a relatively young one. However, according to financial commentators, it is about to enter a rapid-growth phase. Changes in regulations have seen EGP 2 billion in mortgages being taken out over recent years, with around three-quarters of the total being provided by banks backed by five mortgage finance companies, including the Egyptian Mortgage Refinance Company (EMRC), a newly established government institution aimed at helping mortgage companies offer more competitive terms.

Several other factors have also fuelled the growing optimism within the mortgage market, not least a reduction in property registration fees, which should mean more properties eligible for mortgage financing, and the formation of I-Score, the newly established Egyptian credit bureau used to verify creditworthiness of customers.

It may seem to outsiders Egypt is firmly rooted in its past â“ but astute observers know this is for overseas consumption, as evidenced by the millions of visitors who holiday there year after year. However, the country is extremely modern in its outlook. If it has one eye on its past, it has both eyes firmly fixed on a positive and lucrative economic future.

photo by  heatheronhertravels